Home Blog Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 19

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 19

Written on September 21, 2012 at 7:04 pm, by Eric Cressey

Compliments of Cressey Performance coach Greg Robins, here are this week’s tips to make you just a little more awesome.

1. Consider assigning rest intervals, or using “active rest” to better facilitate the desired training effect.

Assigning rest intervals is a topic of hot debate. Many coaches are against it, some are strong advocates for it, and many don’t pay much attention to it at all. My stance, as it tends to be with so many strength and conditioning topics, is “situationally dependent.”

For many athletes (particularly younger or less experienced ones), assigning rest intervals simply adds an unnecessary variable. Why? It’s largely because the primary goal with these athletes is developing strength and muscle mass. These goals are pretty easily achieved in novice populations. They have little to no training experience and moving weight is going to cause these adaptations, generally regardless of the amount of rest they take between sets.

In more experienced athletes, though, different strength qualities must be trained in order to further advance the transfer of training to sport improvement. In these cases, the amount of rest can definitely alter the training effect, even when moving loads of the same intensity. In his text, Special Strength Training Manual For Coaches, Yuri Verkhoshansky outlines a few basic parameters in regards to this philosophy.

Consider an example: moving a load of 70-90% of one-rep max for as many as 3-10 total repetitions over 4-8 sets, with rest intervals of 3-4 minutes, yields a training effect geared more towards explosive strength development.

Moving a similar load (70-80%) for 6-12 total repetitions over the course of 3-6 sets, with rest intervals of 1-2 minutes, yields a training effect more geared towards maximal strength and muscular hypertrophy. In both cases, the load and set/rep scheme is basically the same. However, by giving the athlete time to recover (3-4 min), we allow them to apply a near maximal output against the resistance every set. This greatly alters the result of the training.

Verkoshansky goes on to provide a number of examples where rest is the most altered variable differentiating between working on explosive capabilities rather than maximal strength, hypertrophy, or localized muscular endurance. Keep this in mind when you utilize exercises in an effort to develop explosive strength, such as jumps or throws. If your goal is to make athletes more explosive, you need to make them rest. At Cressey Performance, we do this by pairing exercises such as med ball throws with mobility drills, which forces an athlete to take more time between sets. This approach has commonly been referred to as “active” rest.

2. Teach people how to be coached.

Does this sound familiar? Your client or athlete is in the middle of a set. He or she is on rep 2 of 5 and you call out a coaching cue: “chest up!” All of a sudden, they turn their head – right in the middle of the repetition – and ask, “what?”

Needless to say, this isn’t a great situation. Luckily, it is one that is easily avoided if you take the time to coach the “little” things right from the get-go. Some of you might be reading this and saying: “Duh, Greg.” Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens ALL THE TIME. In fact, I bet the majority of you don’t touch on the nuances of lifting and getting coached with your clients until an event like this takes place. Do everyone involved a favor: before you teach them anything concerning technique, teach them how to be coached. Make sure they understand that at no point during a lift should they turn their head, talk, or stop midway through, unless instructed to do so. A mentor of mine used to start every new client by getting them in a mock squat position and moving to various spots around them, asking if they could hear him. It was meant to prove that in order to be coached, they didn’t need to move their head. Again, it seems rudimentary, but it’s very important.

3. Roll your adductors on an elevated surface.

Many of you already roll out your adductors (inner thighs). However, in most cases, it is primarily done on the ground. While doing so on the ground is definitely beneficial, you will find the position to be somewhat awkward. Additionally, it is tough to apply enough pressure on the ground to actually get a good effect. Check out this video to see how we utilize an elevated surface to get into a better position; you can also utilize a med ball instead of a foam roller to improve the training effect.

I realize many gyms don’t have this luxury, but you will find that using a weight bench also works, but might feel somewhat awkward. Instead of placing the opposite foot on the ground, just place the opposite knee on the ground instead to make up for the lack of surface height.

4. Go ahead, eat some chocolate!

Who doesn’t like to indulge in some chocolate, and a good cry?  Okay, well at least the chocolate, right? In his popular book, The 150 Healthiest Foods On Earth, Dr. Jonny Bowden makes a point to include dark chocolate. Thank goodness, because that stuff is delicious! The best part is that consuming the right kind of chocolate is actually great for our health as well. For starters, cocoa is rich in flavonoids. These are compounds found in plants that help protect the organism from various toxins. When we consume the plant, we also receive the benefits of these compounds.

It is interesting to note that the flavonoids found in cocoa help synthesize nitric oxide. Every meathead knows that nitric oxide helps increase blood flow, that’s why they crush NO workout products like nobody’s business.  Well, that and they think they’re going to make them hyooooge. Seriously, though, the flavonoids ability to modulate nitric oxide has a great effect on decreasing cardiovascular issues (such as high blood pressure) and can help to improve insulin sensitivity. Seek out real chocolate bars, not the kind you find in a mini mart. Make sure it’s at least 60% cocoa or more to get these benefits. Furthermore, while the fat content in real dark chocolate is primarily good fat, it does contain a fair amount of “bad” fat, so it is best consumed in moderation.

5. Volunteer or donate to charity.

This blog has never been about politics, nor will it ever be.  However, with the recent releases of tax returns from both candidates in the presidential race, it’s pretty awesome to see both Romney and Obama donating approximately 20% of their income in 2011 to charity.  I figured this could be the first blog to highlight something that’s not negative about either candidate!  Hopefully more Americans will follow their lead on this front – or at least volunteer their time if they don’t have the resources to contribute financially.  Remember, these tips are about ways to feel better – and that includes the psychological benefit you’ll receive from helping others.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!


9 Responses to “Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 19”

  1. Michael Feller Says:

    Great article!
    Are you guys still having your baseball clinic early January.?
    God bless!!!

  2. Troy @ Formulated Fitness Says:

    Hey Eric,

    You touched on NO in this post a little. What is your favorite nitric oxide product and when do you take it? Have you found any other all natural products that increase blood flow similar to a NO supplement?

  3. R. Smith Says:


    I’m tempted to say “Dayum! These ARE always excellent.” They are. I love that they are indispensable and immediately relevant.


  4. Michael Anders Says:

    Thanks guys. This is a good reminder of some basic training tools and why we use them. Although most of my clients are primarily personal training clients and not professional performance athletes, their goals might still be performance oriented.

  5. George Says:

    Kudos on #5…so tired of the trite partisan crap all over Facebook and the TV!!

  6. Eric Cressey Says:


    I don’t take it. I’ll leave it to Greg to respond as well.

  7. Eric Cressey Says:


    Yes, we’re in the planning stages and plan to announce it shortly.

  8. Mike T Nelson Says:

    Good tips as always! Awesome!

    I totally agree with Verkoshansky’s point (who am I to argue with him), but if you just measure overload via 1)volume, 2) density (volume/time) and 3) intensity, it sort of comes out in the wash.

    If you cut the rest periods, most times (there are some freaks out there where this does not apply I know) you will need to cut the load to do the # of reps you want.

    If you lengthen the rest time, you can do a heavier load since you have more rest (although your density will drop).

    I am not saying you need to go ape$hit and do all Crossfit density work, but pick your goal first and then the correct rest period will be easy.

    NO Explode
    The use of arginine for NO is utter BS and it does not work in an oral fashion. Stu’s lab showed that awhile back too (below)

    J Nutr. 2011 Feb;141(2):195-200. Epub 2010 Dec 29.
    Bolus arginine supplementation affects neither muscle blood flow nor muscle protein synthesis in young men at rest or after resistance exercise.
    Tang JE, Lysecki PJ, Manolakos JJ, MacDonald MJ, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM.

    I know some people will then claim they got a better pump using X preworkout, but keep in mind that most powerful muscle vasodilator (that is not a drug) is INSULIN!

    Hell, insulin is used in studies for just this purpose alone; so if you have a nice whey protein and some carbs you are set to get your pump on (which is fine with me).

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  9. John Phung Says:

    Rolling the adductors on the ground is awkward. I don’t think I could do it in public with people watching me.

    The video on rolling on an elevated surface looks a lot more effective, and less awkward!

  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series